Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Piano Composition in Collaboration with Leah Senibaldi

I am delighted today to share some new music with you today.

It was a pleasure to give a simple melody of this song to a very talented young pianist, Leah Senibaldi. And she brought life to it.  She says that her mission is to bring music to the world. First it is amazing that she writes music really well as you can hear from this arrangement. She is very attentive to details and has the potential to be an outstanding composer. I found it especially amazing that while a lot of people older than her are lost in the maze of this world, she already has a purpose and is striving towards it.

As I see most of life through the prism of singing, I concluded a couple of years ago that the purpose of life is to sing. I continually learn from people like Leah that it is important to find the song you have to sing in life. We often forget our song. And those who have found their songs remind us. So it was an honor and a pleasure to work with Leah!

I encourage all of you to find Leah's music on her facebook page:

PS: I also have a written notation of Leah's arrangement.  I am trying to figure out how to make that available.  When I do, I will post a link here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

False Decorations - a poem

Decorations on a body
which does not live
is as false as a life
which does not sing

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Singing: The Key To A Long Life - Brian Eno

Singing: The Key To A Long Life

By Brian Eno

I believe in singing. I believe in singing together.

A few years ago a friend and I realized that we both loved singing but didn't do much of it. So we started a weekly a capella group with just four members. After a year we started inviting other people to join. We didn't insist on musical experience — in fact some of our members had never sung before. Now the group has ballooned to around 15 or 20 people.

I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.

Well, there are physiological benefits, obviously: You use your lungs in a way that you probably don't for the rest of your day, breathing deeply and openly. And there are psychological benefits, too: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness. And then there are what I would call "civilizational benefits." When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That's one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

Well here's what we do in an evening: We get some drinks, some snacks, some sheets of lyrics and a strict starting time. We warm up a bit first.

The critical thing turns out to be the choice of songs. The songs that seem to work best are those based around the basic chords of blues and rock and country music. You want songs that are word-rich, but also vowel-rich because it's on the long vowels sounds of a song such as "Bring It On Home To Me" ("You know I'll alwaaaaays be your slaaaaave"), that's where your harmonies really express themselves. And when you get a lot of people singing harmony on a long note like that, it's beautiful.

But singing isn't only about harmonizing pitch like that. It has two other dimensions. The first one is rhythm. It's thrilling when you get the rhythm of something right and you all do a complicated rhythm together: "Oh, when them cotton balls get a-rotten, you can't pick very much cotton." So when 16 or 20 people get that dead right together at a fast tempo that's very impressive. But the other thing that you have to harmonize besides pitch and rhythm is tone. To be able to hit exactly the same vowel sound at a number of different pitches seems unsurprising in concept, but is beautiful when it happens.

So I believe in singing to such an extent that if I were asked to redesign the British educational system, I would start by insisting that group singing become a central part of the daily routine. I believe it builds character and, more than anything else, encourages a taste for co-operation with others. This seems to be about the most important thing a school could do for you.

Independently produced for Weekend Edition Sunday by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick. Special thanks to Davia Nelson of The Kitchen Sisters for recording this essay.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rumi on gratitude

Giving thanks for abundance
is sweeter than the abundance itself.
Should one who is absorbed with the Generous One
be distracted by the gift?
Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence;
abundance is but the husk,
for thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives.
Abundance yields heedlessness;
thankfulness, alertness:
hunt for bounty with the snare of gratitude to the King.

-- Mathnawi III:2895-2897
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Every Day a Friday - Reading for the flight

I am just about to get on to a flight and pass through a store. First bought a strawberry banana smoothie. Was looking for some magazines. Pondered over scientific american for a while. It had a story on how future generations will be much smarter. Wondering if that is true, those philosophers of yesteryears must have been far ahead of their times.

But then I Chose to buy this book. I think it will be a fun to read. I have been listening to Joel Osteen's lectures. And I liked the concept of "Every Day a Friday". Let's see what it has.

What do i think to start with? Its interesting that philosophers of today are rejecting the now philosophy. "living in the now" does not use our powerful ability to dream. People are 10% happier on Friday than other days says the book. I bet people are less happy on Sunday. If you make everyday a Friday, then you gain this power to dream everyday about a brighter future. I say living in the hope of tomorrow is sweeter than living in the now. And what's the harm? The purpose of life is not to hold back. There are no compromises that need to be made. The purpose of life is to sing.

I'll write more as I read.